Thirdhand smoke causes DNA damage
Washington: Thirdhand smoke-the noxious residue that clings to virtually all surfaces long after the secondhand smoke from a cigarette has cleared out-causes significant genetic damage in human cells, a study has found.
The study led by researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory also found that chronic exposure is worse than acute exposure, with the chemical compounds in samples exposed to chronic thirdhand smoke existing in higher concentrations and causing more DNA damage than samples exposed to acute thirdhand smoke, suggesting that the residue becomes more harmful over time.
"This is the very first study to find that thirdhand smoke is mutagenic," said Lara Gundel, a Berkeley Lab scientist and co-author of the study.
"Tobacco-specific nitrosamines, some of the chemical compounds in thirdhand smoke, are among the most potent carcinogens there are. They stay on surfaces, and when those surfaces are clothing or carpets, the danger to children is especially serious," she added.
The researchers used two common in vitro assays, the Comet assay and the long amplicon-qPCR assay, to test for genotoxicity and found that thirdhand smoke can cause both DNA strand breaks and oxidative DNA damage, which can lead to gene mutation. Genotoxicity is associated with the development of diseases and is a critical mechanism responsible for many types of cancer caused by smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.
Their paper was published in the journal Mutagenesis.